— Submitted by Karen Arena, Xerox public relations consultant

Last month, Xerox CMO Christa Carone posted a blog on Forbes.com on social media. She warned about going overboard on social media and how “too much, too soon” could  potentially damage a brand, especially if you are trying to replace traditional advertising and marketing campaigns.  She points to Marc Brownstein’s story on the overreliance of social media.  Although I wouldn’t say Xerox is a company with “exaggerated exuberance” for social media.  The company is not dumping traditional campaigns for purely social ones any time soon.

Her post did, however, get me thinking about social media and the Xerox brand.   The public relations team –folks who contribute to this blog — along with Xerox employees active in social media are working hard to be good, if not great, Xerox brand ambassadors.   Okay, Xerox took it slow for a reason,  and in the beginning it was a little too slow for impatient me who wanted the company to move much, much faster.  Now, I have to confess here that I believe it turned out to be the right tack.

Way back in 2006, Xerox researchers introduced me to social media, through wikis, internal social groups and Second Life.   Since those early days, we’ve learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t, with more to learn each day.  Last year Xerox developed a working social media group represented by people from all business segments and who are passionate (exuberant?) about social media communities and sharing.  These are the company’s early adopters driving change one tweet, one blog post, one video at a time.   Since the group’s inception, it developed Xerox’s official Social Media guidelines, best practices, a Ning community — and it continues to listen and learn how to best integrate social marketing into business plans and practices.  And Christa is right, it’s just one component of overall strategies being baked into programs.

Xerox hosting Second Life Panel on Virtual Worlds Circa 2007

Xerox hosting Second Life Panel on Virtual Worlds Circa 2007

Although social media today makes a small percentage of the company’s marketing activities, one thing Xerox doesn’t do is take the power of the community for granted, and those of us “out there” on behalf of Xerox respect the individual voices just as much as we respect and try to uphold the tenets of the iconic Xerox brand.  We’re real people listening and communicating in these uncharted waters, and sometimes mistakes will be made, and I’m certain you’ll be the first to let the company know.

In fact, why not do it right here, right now.  In social communities, is Xerox “getting” it?

— Karen Arena, Xerox public relations consultant